My ex got evicted out of her apartment for non-payment of rent. This didn't entirely take me by surprise, as she is financially pretty clueless.

She attempted to rent another place but given her history (credit and otherwise), which includes a bankruptcy, 2 evictions, taking people who evicted her to court (in attempt to prolong the eviction process), foreclosure, horrible credit score (520) and other fun facts, she's been unable to find any takers.

The consequence is that my two kids are with her on weekends. And they are basically couch surfing friends and relatives. For the time being, the kids see it as an adventure, but I suspect, it will get old very fast.

I suggested to several people in her family that they co-sign a rental place for my ex...they laughed hysterically in my face. The retort is typically: "Why don't you co-sign it".

I thought about co-signing but the truth is that my ex will screw this up too and leave me on the hook for the rent. One possible way I thought of co-signing is if a portion of child/spousal support goes directly to the landlord. I asked the Child Support Services (who deduct money from my paycheck monthly to pay support to my ex) and they told me that they are not authorized to do this.

So is there a way to get decent housing with such a circumstance? Perhaps some kind of program or something? I mean, my ex can't be the first irresponsible person in the world.

P.S. Please don't tell me to take the kids away from her. I got the lawyer part down. This is strictly a housing question.

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    Does she damage/wreck the houses? Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 0:17
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    @Harper Wow, a response to a question 7 years ago. No, she doesn't damage or wreck the houses, just has trouble paying for rent.
    – NeedAdvice
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 1:09
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    Whoops, sorry about that. I generally view "newest questions" so I tend to be caught off guard when the system throws me an old question. I wish SE had a banner to warn "old question"... Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 1:14
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    @Harper No problem. It gave me the impetus to revisit all my old questions here and to take stock of where I am now.
    – NeedAdvice
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 1:17

7 Answers 7


This tale makes me sad the more I learn of it. I am impressed with your dedication and caring for your ex-wife and particularly your kids; you seem like a good person from your questions.

But you are tired and exasperated too. You have every right to be. The problem isn't how this woman can rent a new apartment (which there isn't a good way that won't screw over some unsuspecting landlord) but how to get this woman into conseling on a regular basis. Not just money, but personal or group therapy.

She honestly needs help and must face this problem herself otherwise these questions will never stop. I know you mentioned this doesn't appear to be an option, anf maybe it isn't your job, but I. See your questions are much deeper than personal finance.

I wish you the best and I really do admire your resolve to take care of your kids.

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    +1 for "there isn't a good way that won't screw over some unsuspecting landlord"
    – Alex B
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 22:33
  • This is good relationship advice, perhaps, but it doesn't really answer the question. I think you are certainly right in the general case but the scope of his question is far narrowed down from general "financial responsibility", to "can I get her the most minimal housing?" Something more concrete could be offered.
    – Uticensis
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 3:20
  • @Billare - perhaps. But if you were around during all of the question from NeedsAdvice you might have more of the backstory. Frankly, the question he asked isn't the question he should have been asking. He ex's behavior wasn't about frugality, it was about mental health. (Ultimately, it turned out)
    – MrChrister
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 5:04
  • I first read your ex-wife's powerful and sad story many years ago. Was she ever able to overcome her financial difficulties. I'm thinking that if your children have gown up then that could have been a reason for her to change her behavior. I also wonder if your kids might have inadvertently benefited from their suffering by learning a valuable life lesson and ended up better for it. Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 19:23

She can find a landlord that doesn't do credit checks. Maybe on Craigslist? She may end up paying more, have a bigger security deposit, etc.

She can get someone else (not you) to sit her down and explain to her frankly that she's messing things up for herself and her children by being a poor manager of her finances. As her credit score improves, more opportunities will open up for her.

Co-signing the loan is an option, but I do think you're wise not to do that.

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    +1 for not co-signing the agreements. Do NOT co-sign that agreement.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 16:43

Having been recently evicted she is unlikely to find any one willing to rent to her at anything close to reasonable terms. Any landlord that would consider it is likely to require a huge deposit.

Her best solution may be a hotel/motel with weekly/monthly rates. It is generally much easier to get someone out of a hotel/motel for non payment than it is an actual apartment with a lease and landlord-tenant laws. But when you pay they take care of all utilities, and you can receive mail and register them as your permanent address for finding employment.

Any other place that is willing to take someone who they know is a high risk for nonpayment/eviction is probably not going to be the type of place you want your children.


I saw where you said "I thought of co-signing is if a portion of child/spousal support goes directly to the landlord. I asked the Child Support Services (who deduct money from my paycheck monthly to pay support to my ex) and they told me that they are not authorized to do this." I know going back to court isn't a pleasant thought, but from the looks of things, your suggestion is the only way to accomplish this. It's ridiculous for anyone to suggest you keep up your payments and cosign, yet the ex has no obligation to use that income to actually pay her rent. From what you've said, she sounds irresponsible and self-destructive. As someone who has had bad tenants, I'd not go near her, even with a cosigner. It's just not worth the risk.

  • I agree with @JoeTaxpayer, in that there should be a legally enforced way in which your money gets channeled to the appropriate child support infrastructure (e.g. a safe place to live with utilities on all year, plus food and clothing, etc.). I'd bet the court would consider such a proposal. See this FAQ answer, e.g., from the Utah Dept. of Recovery Services Child Support Program: ors.utah.gov/faq_for_ncp.htm#Q9 Anything short of this seems like it is just NOT going to work given what appears to be your (currently) mentally ill ex-wife.
    – Chelonian
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 1:20
  • @Chelonian By law (at least in my state), child support payments cannot be touched, because nominally they belong to the children. That leaves spousal support, but the lion's share of what I pay her is child support.
    – NeedAdvice
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 7:53

I don't think you've mentioned which State you're in.

Here in Ontario, a person who is financially incapable can have their financial responsibility and authority removed, and assigned to a trustee. The trustee might be a responsible next of kin (as her ex, you would appear unsuitable: that being a potential conflict of interest); otherwise, it can be the Public Guardian and Trustee.

It that happens, then the trustee handles the money; and handles/makes any contracts on behalf of (in the name of) the incapable person.

The incapable person might have income (e.g. spousal support payments) and money (e.g. bank accounts), which the trustee can document in order to demonstrate credit-worthiness (or at least solvency).

For the time being, the kids see it as an adventure, but I suspect, it will get old very fast.

I hope you have a counsellor to talk with about your personal relationships (I've had or tried several and at least one has been extraordinarily helpful).

You're not actually expressing a worry about the children being abused or neglected. :/

Is your motive (for asking) that you want her to have a place, so that the children will like it (being there) better?

As long as your kids see it as an adventure, perhaps you can be happy for them.

Perhaps (I don't know: depending on the people) too it's a good (or at least a better) thing that they are visiting with friends and relatives; and, a better conversational topic with those people might be how they show your children a good time (instead of your ex's money).

One possible way I thought of co-signing is if a portion of child/spousal support goes directly to the landlord. I asked the Child Support Services (who deduct money from my paycheck monthly to pay support to my ex) and they told me that they are not authorized to do this.

Perhaps (I don't know) there is some way to do that, if you have your ex's cooperation and a lawyer (and perhaps a judge).

You haven't said what portions of your payments are for Child support, versus Spousal support (nor, who has custody, etc). If a large part of the support is for the children, then perhaps the children can rent the place. (/wild idea)

Note that, in Ontario, there are two trusteeship decisions to make: 1) financial; and 2) personal care, which includes housing and medical. Someone can retain their own 'self-care' authority even if they're judged financially incapable (or vice versa if there's a personal-care or medical decision which they cannot understand).

The technical language is,

"Mentally Incapable of Managing Property"

This term applies to a person who is unable to understand information that is relevant to making a decision or is unable to appreciate the reasonably foreseeable consequences of a decision or lack of decision about his or her property. Processes for certifying an individual as being mentally incapable of managing property are prescribed in the SDA (Substitute Decisions Act), and in the Mental Health Act."

The Mental Heath Act is for medical emergencies (only); but Ontario has a Substitute Decisions Act as well.

An intent of the law is to protect vulnerable people.

People may also acquire and/or name their own trustee and/or guardian voluntarily: via a power of attorney, a living will, etc.

I don't know: how about offering the landlord a year's rent in advance, or in trust?

I guess that 1) a court order can determine/override/guarantee the way in which the child support payments are directed 2) it's easier to get that order/agreement if you and your ex cooperate 3) there are housing specialists in your neighborhood:

  • realtors
  • social workers
  • 'socialised' (I don't know what to call it: public or assisted or charitable or semi-medical or religious or community) housing
  • landlords
  • and rental agents.

They can buy housing instead of renting it. Or be given (gifted) housing to live in.

  • The trustee might be a responsible next of kin (as her ex, you would appear unsuitable) - I ain't doing it even if I was suitable.
    – NeedAdvice
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 7:56
  • @NeedAdvice - Additionally, I hear "debt counsellors" being advertised on the radio. And also "trustees in bankruptcy", who will settle with you creditors, and protect your essentials (e.g. home, car, money for kids).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 3:57
  • @ChrisW those people are crooks, and their job is to put you into new and worse debt, on which they take a commission, that's how they pay for the radio commercials. Good credit counselors do exist, read Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey for pointers. Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 7:16

Explain the situation to a landlord and offer to prepay a few months of rent in advance as a guarantee. This may or may not work, but being honest and committed may just be the answer.

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    This is a good idea, but it doesn't help because the courts are ordering him to pay money to his ex directly, so he would be out of pocket twice for her rent.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 18:56

Here's some ideas:

  1. Rent a room (or 2) in someone's house. Typically these people are not adept landlords, and don't run a credit check (I never did). They will decide based on how much they like you and if they think you will make a good house-mate. You can find these listings on Craigslist.
  2. Sublet an apartment from someone. They will be happy to get someone in there, and probably won't bother to run a credit check.
  3. Government assistance. In the US, the government will guarantee rent payments for people who qualify, based on income and number of children (I guess). This is known as Section 8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_8_(housing). Landlords are generally happy to rent to these people, because they know they will get paid from the government.

Hope that helps.

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    It's not just about getting paid, it's also about whether the tenant will cause problems or wreck your house. Section 8 can be a real problem in that area, now there's midnight screaming matches, traffic all hours, pit bulls, kicked-in drywall when you evict them, etc. Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 7:20

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